this is it: ryan adams’ latest

I had this standing Ryan Adams debate with someone I once loved. I will cop to the fact that it was his influence that got me to pay serious attention to Ryan’s work, something I’d stupidly neglected to do, letting the reputation overshadow the actual music.

Our ongoing discussion ran fairly consistently along the following lines: I admired Ryan’s sheer volume of output, simply because he wasn’t standing still, he was always creating, and it wasn’t all crap. His point was that “more” didn’t necessarily equal “better,” and that Ryan tended to value “new” over “good”. He also felt that Ryan didn’t have good filters – exhibit #1, the version of “Dear Chicago” that made it onto Demolition is decidedly inferior from the original demo – and I wholeheartedly agree on that point. (And in case you’re going to ask, the demo’s floating around the net if you decide to go look for it.)

Because I came to embrace Ryan’s work so far along in the story, I think that I may have just a greater patience (or maybe it’s just indulgence) of much of what can irritate (and amuse) fans of RA. While my former associate, who was around from Whiskeytown days, had far less tolerance for what he felt was a lack of focus and quality.

I don’t know what made me decide that I was in it for the long run with Ryan; I think the show I saw at the Moore in October of 03 was a big part of it, for sure. Moody and plaintive, emotional, almost fragile. Moving from piano to guitar and back, stage half dark, half blue, that beautiful voice echoing through the theater. Even when I hated the attitude, I gave props to the instrument. You held your breath the whole time. I was gone. Then, Heartbreaker became an almost pathetic soundtrack for my life last year, when I’d lie on the couch in the dark and listen to the record over and over and over on endless repeat, trying to fight my way through desperately aching disappointment and regret. That’s the aural equivalent of getting a tattoo.

So now we come to the new releases, LLORNKCOR [it’s rocknroll backwards] and Love Is Hell, Pt. I. I suppose I could be Good Reviewer and give you the background and the history, but you can go read just about any magazine right now to get all of that.

I had the New York version of LIH (there’s two sessions, NY and New Orleans; the official releases will be a mix of both sessions) and RNR earlier this summer. I confess that I had issues with LIH at first, but I think that was an issue with emotional resonance. If you are currently subscribing to the theory espoused by the title of the record, it isn’t exactly going to be your favorite thing to hear. But now, even with it being not a fully formed concept (in my opinion, anyway – at best it’s a compromise between Ryan’s vision and his record label), I think it’s beautiful.

I *loved* “So Alive”. Just adored it. I mean, I didn’t want to, but after three listens, I just couldn’t help it. The album, though… I didn’t hate it, and I can’t even say it wasn’t what I was expecting, because I had no real expectations. Well, that’s not true – to be honest, I expected it to sound rawer and crunchier than it is. I would have liked a BIG GUITAR album from Ryan. Or a thrashy punk record (I guess that’s The Finger, but I just can’t take that seriously).

So I listened to it and then I put it away until the official release date. That night, despite myself, and despite working until 11pm, I found myself tearing over to Easy Street on the way home in desperate search of. Yeah, I had RNR, but until I held the official release in my hand, I had no idea if what I had was real or not. And I didn